Black and White Night Photography in Waikiki, Hawaii
I have limited experience with black and white, night street photography but at first look, it is an unforgiving, no-nonsense style.
The photographer cannot get by using tricks or by choosing marginally interesting subject matter.
On this particular evening as I was walking around Waikiki, I decided to focus on shadows and silhouettes. Not having to point the camera in strangers’ faces is already a plus which especially in darkness can creep people out.
This Kelly Slater poster has been on my mind as I kept walking by it day after day. I knew I wanted to juxtapose his fitness and athleticism with either a matching live subject (i.e. a surfer) or with a contrasting subject (i.e. hunched over old man). But during the day the concept never materialized due to lack of good subjects walking by.
There are not many hunched over old mean in Waikiki, and I would have to be there at the right time which is very unlikely. On this evening I got lucky. I set my focus at manual and pre-focused just before the poster, at the point where people most likely would walk.
Even though I kept me eyes open looking in both direction, this skateboarder kid seemingly appeared from thin air (or the darkness of the night). I had a chance for one shot and that is why he is slightly out of frame – but not too far in my opinion to render the photo useless.
This statement is rare in street photography, but I actually “got what I wanted”.
My next stop was Waikiki Beach, which was already completely dark except for some seating areas that were lit by strong street lights. Daytime black and white photography already thrives on contrast but at the night time, contrast becomes vital for a dramatic composition. I did find a concept where I didn’t have to point the camera at people plus had the rare luxury of being able to take my time to create eye-catching compositions.
A man was getting ready to leave on his moped and the street lights were at the prefect location relative to him. His shadow was elongated in the style of funny mirrors or like he was standing on stilts. Nevertheless there was a dramatic distortion to his figure. I used wide angle lens so I was quite close to him but clearly not photographing him so he was not concerned with my presence.
A great example of the gift that keep on coming when doing street photography. This headless silhouette is such great moment, which is seen as it was photographed and the head was not erased in Photoshop.
Everything was happening quite quickly but there were key moments when time seemed to have slowed down so I was comfortably able to take these photos. It is hard to explain how time can go both quickly and in slow motion at the same time.
I like all 3 images but this 3rd one seems to have the most balanced composition in my opinion.
I like how the roundness of the man’s bald head is repeated 2 more times in the shape of the 2 rear view mirrors. Also like in all 3 photos the line on the ground that divides the cement blocks and intersects the man’s body; they are all diagonal which usually adds drama and visual excitement to photographs.
As I was walking home, I was looking for creative ways to capture anything with shape and tonal contrast, which are base ingredients for dramatic black and white photography. But I didn’t just want to take pictures for the sake of killing time, I wanted to make sure that was is a point.
I like the snake-like appearance of one of the tree branches in the back. The rest of the branches are drawing strong diagonal lines, which often depict drama and movement.
I like this slightly blurred hand held photo of a street at night with the headlights of an approaching car. The photo suggest to me that something really bad is about to happen. The reason i choose this composition was due to the gently and graceful curve of the road, that reminds me of a winding river.
I really like the arrangement of light and dark areas: the edges are darker and suggest danger or unknown beyond the frame of the photo.
This black and white street photography snap shot was taken probably as I was walking. Most of the time I put a lot of thought into my compositions so it is freeing and refreshing to give up most of the control.
The only thing that was a conscious decision was to wait until the headlights of the bus would be according to the popular compositional guideline: the rule of thirds.
The Waikiki Trolley has a more distinct shape so after the bus whizzed by I was glad to spot one and include it in this photo. Once again, only the rule of thirds was respected and of course the choice of wide angle to add the sense of perspective to the photo.